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Acne Before Period: Why Does This Happen?

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Jen Mallari · Updated Jul 26, 2022

    Acne Before Period: Why Does This Happen?

    One thing that women hate the most when their menstrual cycle is fast approaching is acne before period breakouts. It is a fact that women — both adolescents and older women — experience acne before their period. There are also instances when women do not experience these skin problems at all; however, the majority of women do. 

    The good thing is, the acne breakouts that happen before a woman’s period goes away during or after the cycle. So the question is, why do acne breakouts happen before a woman’s period? Can they be prevented? 

    Why Do Acne Breakouts Happen Before Your Period?

    Acne before period breakouts, also referred to as premenstrual acne, happen due to hormonal fluctuations. They are also part of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) which is a good indicator that a woman’s menstrual cycle is about to begin. 

    When hormones fluctuate, this causes the body to produce more sebum. The excess sebum produced by the skin would eventually lead to acne before period breakouts. 

    In addition to increased oil production, another symptom of PMS is mood swings. Women are likely to become emotional before their period, and that may lead them to binge eating. Irregular cycles can also lead to binge eating. 

    Binge eating raises consumption of carbohydrates and fat, so when women binge eat as a result of PMS, they are likely to experience acne breakouts due to their change in diet.

    Lastly, when women experience PMS, they often get stressed. Combine stress with other external factors that may add to stress (e.g. work, financial problems, relationship problems) and these may contribute to making their acne worse than it was before. 

    Do take note that stress does not cause acne; however, if a person already has acne, then stress becomes a factor in worsening it. 

    How to Prevent Acne Before Period Breakouts

    There are solutions to help women prevent acne before period, however, this does not guarantee that they will not experience acne breakouts. 

    1. Wash your face at least twice a day to prevent oil build up. 

    Make sure that you are using mild acne care products to prevent further skin irritation and dryness. 

    2. Avoid skincare products that make the skin dry. 

    Always look at the ingredient list on skincare products and check if there are parabens, phthalates, and alcohol in them. If products have these ingredients, avoid using them. 

    3. Make sure to remove every trace of makeup before you go to bed. 

    Make-up that is left on the face overnight may cause acne breakouts and acne before period as well. 

    4. If you sweat a lot, make sure you wash your face at the end of the day. 

    Clogged pores due to sweat can lead to acne breakouts. 

    5. Avoid using abrasive facial scrubs.

    Abrasive facial scrubs or scrubbing your face too hard can irritate the skin and cause acne before period. 

    6. Avoid touching your face.

    Your hands come into contact with bacteria, so avoid touching your face, especially if your hands are not sanitized. This would prevent bacteria from getting into your pores and causing acne. 

    7. Do not pop or pick on your pimples.

    Popping or picking pimples can be counterproductive as doing so can further irritate the skin. Avoiding this practice can ensure that your acne will not multiply before your period happens. 

    8. Take birth control pills.

    Birth control pills, or other medications that work on hormones, can keep hormone levels steady. Without hormonal fluctuations, the skin will not produce too much sebum and clog pores, therefore, the likelihood of acne is lessened.

    Consult a doctor before starting hormonal birth control to discuss the proper administration, risks, and potential side effects.

    9. Use topical acne medications.

    If medications like birth control pills  are not working for your acne, then you may also try topical acne medications. These can reduce your current acne before your period happens. 

    10. Control your diet.

    Try to avoid food that is high in carbohydrates and fat since these may cause acne. Some studies have shown a connection between high-glycemic foods and acne. 

    Key Takeaway

    Going through acne before period breakouts is normal. Women do not have to panic when this happens since it goes away on its own after the menstrual cycle. Luckily, women can engage in preventive measures so that the chances of having acne breakouts before their period will be lessened. 

    Learn more about Acne here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Martha Juco, MD


    Written by Jen Mallari · Updated Jul 26, 2022

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